Residents Stand Up For Sanctuary Status


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Amid reports of patients canceling their doctor visits out of fear of immigration raids, CIR members are adding their voices to campaigns for sanctuary cities and states. In addition to patients staying away from the hospital, physicians report a heavy psychological toll on families and children because of the threat of deportation under the Trump administration.

“How many of us have seen young children coming into the clinic with stomach pains and chest pains and afraid to go to school because they don’t know if their parents are going to be home when they get back?” said Dr. Elisabeth Poorman, a recent CIR alum from Cambridge Health Alliance, at a rally for the Safe Communities Act in Massachusetts.

From past federal programs that blurred the line between local law enforcement and federal immigration enforcement, researchers learned that such programs undermine the trust between local law enforcement and the communities they need to work with and protect.  Past programs made immigrants less likely to interact with police, including as the witness or victim of a crime, and to avoid areas which routinely have some police presence — like hospitals.

So-called “sanctuary jurisdictions” are those that have a policy that prohibits local law enforcement from sharing information with federal immigration officials about the religion or immigration status of the people with whom officers interact, unless they are suspected of a felony or violent crime.  

In Massachusetts, The Safe Communities Act, if passed, would bar state and local law enforcement from sharing information that could be used to create a “Muslim registry.”  It would also block state, local, and campus police resources from being used for federal immigration enforcement.

CIR members from Cambridge Health Alliance and Boston Medical Center shared their support for Safe Communities at a lobby day at the State House on April 11.

Dr. Giovanna Sobrinho from LAC+USC at the Immigration Lobby Day in Sacramento

The California State Senate passed a bill on April 3 which would prohibit local law enforcement from enforcing immigration laws or cooperating with ICE in raids. The bill next goes to the State Assembly, and if passed, then to the Governor for his signature.

Residents from Los Angeles and the Bay Area were represented at a rally and lobby day in Sacramento for the state sanctuary bill and three other legislative proposals to protect immigrant workers and their families. More than 40 residents wrote messages on face masks to be delivered at the lobby day in the capitol.

Members of SEIU, CIR’s parent union, have also joined legal actions in San Francisco and Santa Clara counties against President Trump’s executive order blocking federal funding for sanctuary cities.

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